American warplanes destroyed or severely damaged most of the Iranian and militia targets they struck in Syria and Iraq on Friday, according to the Pentagon, the first major salvos in what President Biden and his aides have said will be a sustained campaign.
Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said on Monday that “more than 80” of some 85 targets in Syria and Iraq were destroyed or rendered inoperable. The targets, he said, included command hubs; intelligence centers; depots for rockets, missiles and attack drones; as well as logistics and ammunition bunkers.
It was the first military assessment of the strikes carried out in response to a drone attack in Jordan by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq on Jan. 28 that killed three American soldiers and injured at least 40 more service members.
“This is the start of our response, and there will be additional actions taken,” General Ryder told reporters without elaborating. “We do not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else, but attacks on American forces will not be tolerated.”
But the assessment also shows the limits of the American campaign so far. In particular, U.S. officials acknowledge that the militias targeted still retain the majority of their capability to carry out future attacks.
There were no initial indications that Iranian advisers were killed in the strikes on Friday, military officials said, but General Ryder said there probably were casualties. Syria and Iraq have said that at least 39 people — 23 in Syria and 16 in Iraq — were killed in the Friday strikes, a toll that the Iraqi government said included civilians.